President's  statements:  3  million  filipinos  rise  from  poverty

APRIL 17, 2007 (Office of the Press Secretary, Malacanang) The incidence of poverty in the country has continuously been decreasing, what with the bullish economy and the progress-oriented and pro-poor programs under the Arroyo administration.

Over three million Filipinos have so far risen from extreme poverty since 2000, Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said in a statement today, citing a report by the World Bank, the world’s leading institution for development.

The WB estimates that by the end of this year, only some 8.4 percent of Filipinos would be living on a dollar a day – the standard by which the said institution measures extreme poverty.

Saludo said the WB forecast is buoyed up by the continuous improvement in the Philippine economy, which is projected to grow by as much as 5.7 percent this year.

With this, the WB believes that some three million Filipinos have been lifted so far from extreme poverty, or a decline to 8.4 percent at the end of 2007 from the 13.5 percent in 2000, reflecting a slash of 5.1 percent, according to figures released by the WB as published in the "East Asia Update: Managing Through a Global Downturn."

"Now that the government has increased its fund sources and earnings, public infrastructure and public service will surely follow, thus providing employment opportunities and expanding education, health, housing and other services for the people," Saludo said.

"Through these measures, the government shall accomplish its dream of slashing by half the number of poor Filipinos by the year 2010," he added.

PGMA welcomes People's Champ Pacquiao in Malacañang

Although without the usual pomp and fanfare, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo welcomed warmly today the People’s Champ and boxing idol Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao by personally greeting him at the foyer of Malacañang’s Rizal Hall before proceeding to the Music Room for a closed-door meeting.

Pacquiao arrived early this morning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board Philippine Airlines Flight PR 113 from the United States, fresh from successfully defending his super featherweight title from Mexican challenger Jorge Solis Saturday night (Sunday noon in Manila).

After a brief rest at the Manila Hotel, Pacquiao proceeded to Malacañang to pay a courtesy call on the President.

In a statement, the President hailed the latest ring conquest of Pacquiao who, she said, "has once again brought victory and pride to the nation."

"His physical strength is matched by a tenacious will to uplift his countrymen with every win. We welcome him home as the people’s idol and this generation’s shining light," she stressed.

The President also said that she and the First Family were "touched" by the concern shown by Pacquiao over the well-being and fast recovery of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who is recuperating at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City after undergoing a 10-hour major heart surgery last April 9.

According to Pacquiao, when he heard that Atty. Arroyo had fallen ill, he (Pacquiao) and his family immediately prayed for the immediate recovery of his friend.

Pacquiao also said that if and when time permits, he would like to pay the First Gentleman a visit to personally extend his get-well wishes to him.

"The First Family is extremely touched by Manny’s concern for the First Gentleman’s state of health," the President said.

"Like all Filipinos, Pacquiao’s victory raised the morale of his friend, Atty. Mike. Friends close to the First Family continue to pray and hope that the boxer’s victory is a fitting metaphor for Atty. Mike’s own battle for a speedy recovery and good health," she added.

During the same event, the President presented Pacquiao with a specially prepared cake that had a molded boxing glove with the colors of the Philippine flag emblazoned on it.

The 18"x16" confectionaire is made of pure white chocolate and sits on a 20"x24" wooden support also covered with pure white chocolate. The molded glove, meanwhile is made of marzipan, an almond-based cake sprinkled with confectionaire’s sugar and sits comfortably in the middle of the second layer of the cake.

The chocolate cake was "lovingly" prepared for the people’s champ by the chefs of Malacañang, namely: Katrina Matiez, Karl del Rio, Jason Matonton and Alex Pleños.

Pacquiao said that during his closed-door meeting with the President, she personally congratulated him and fellow boxer Bernabe Concepcion, who fought at the undercard of the Pacquiao-Solis match.

The 19-year-old Concepcion defeated Texas-based Mexican Benjamin Flores in a unanimous decision to retain his WBC Youth super bantamweight title.

"Ang ibinigay niyang (President Arroyo) payo sa amin ay pagbutihan namin yung bawat laban na darating at sana marami pang karangalan ang madala namin dito sa bansa," Pacquiao said

Aside from members of Team Pacquiao, the boxing idol was also accompanied to the Palace by his wife Jinky, Manila Mayor Jose "Lito" Atienza, mayoralty candidate Ali Atienza, and Manila 3rd District Rep. Miles Roces.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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